The Global Orphan Emergency

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

The early church was charged with caring for orphans and widows in their distress. As a body of believers, they had a keen understanding for God's heart for the marginalized and care for the orphan and widow became central to the acts of the church.

Today in our world somewhere between 150 and 160 million children are orphans. Twenty million children have lost one or both parents due to AIDS, the vast majority living in Sub-Saharan Africa (approximately 15 million). Every fifteen seconds another child becomes an AIDS orphan.

Daily, more than 38,000 children age out of the orphan care system. Yearly, this means about 14.5 million orphans are forced into adulthood before they are ready. Boys typically age out around the age of 14 and girls around the age of 16. According to some studies, 15% of those who age out will attempt suicide in the first two years of independence. In a study of children who aged out in Russia and Ukraine, after only a few years, more than half of the girls had become prostitutes and more than half of the boys had been jailed.

In South Africa, a country of almost 50 million people, there are nearly 4 million orphans, 20% of all children. But only about 250,000 children have been declared wards of the state. Many are cared for by extended family, but kinship networks are stretched to the max and breaking down as AIDS and poverty reek havoc on already fragile families systems. Children who are not wards of the state or cared for by extended family are left to fend for themselves on the streets or in child-headed households. In addition, 2,300 children are abandoned annually with statistics showing a 10% yearly increase in the number of abandoned children.

We are surrounded on every side by a generation of orphaned children, and the question will we as a Church respond?

While I do not believe every Christian is called to adopt, I do believe every Christian is called to do something. Fostering. Being a place of safety family. Giving. Volunteering.

It has become our habit over the passing generations to give of our leftovers to the orphan and the widow--our used and hand-me-down items, our leftover time, our leftover dollars. But the current state demands we change the paradigm. Orphan care organizations need your financial support to pay caregivers, doctors fees, school fees, etc. They need professionals--doctors, dentists, therapists, accountants, etc.--to volunteer their time and services. They need volunteers to support their care model.

Below is a list of resources with more information about the global orphan emergency and how you can get involved. Whatever you do, do something.


Web Resources